As we creep closer to 2022, all eyes are on Qatar – the host of the next World Cup. The cousin of the UAE and Saudi Arabia has a reputation for being one of the fastest-growing countries in the world. And as one of the big players in the oil industry, it’s also one of the wealthiest.
What’s more, there are plenty of opportunities for expats to teach English in Qatar.
Because of the competitive, tax-free salary for foreigners teaching abroad in Qatar, a job in Qatar is a smart way to build up your funds for the future – whether that’s to buy property or continue your studies. You might even use it as a means to build toward your eventual retirement!
However, a teaching job in Qatar is no walk in the park. Aside from the job itself, there’s also a vigorous application process followed by a long-term commitment of at least a few years. After all, your job offer will be studded with benefits; for that reason, your employer will want you to stick around.
If this sounds good so far, read on for our definitive tips on how to teach English in Qatar!
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Why Teach English in Qatar?
First up, you need to weigh the pros and cons of teaching English in Qatar.
Pros | Why You NEED to Teach Abroad in Qatar
- Salary: You can make a very pretty penny while you teach English abroad in Qatar. The typical monthly salary is $1,600 USD – $4,000 USD (5,800 – 14,600 QAR) – and that’s tax-free.
- Benefits: Besides the attractive salary, your job in Qatar will likely come with benefits like free or subsidised housing and airfare from your home country. Plus, many employers offer a transport allowance.
- Expat community: The tax-free salaries and luxurious way of living attracts more than English teachers. For that reason, there’s a thriving expat community in Qatar, with workers from all around the world.
- Safety record: Peaceful Qatar is an extremely safe country to base yourself in. Even the capital city of Doha has a remarkably low crime rate.
- Lifestyle: Your salary in Qatar will afford you a great lifestyle. And even though it’s such a small country, you have plenty of interesting things to see and do on your days off and during your holidays. I mean sporting events, concerts, and outdoor adventures – the lot!
Cons | What to Consider Before Teaching in Qatar
- Crowded job market: Due to the high standard of living, a job in Qatar is highly coveted. But Qatar is a small nation, and there are fewer teaching opportunities up for grabs. You’ll need to work hard to get hired, especially for non-native English speakers who need to prove fluency in the language to be hired. If you are adament about getting a job here, you should definitely look to get a teaching license in your home country.
- Hiring process: The hiring process for a job in Qatar isn’t for the faint-hearted! Expect it to take 1-3 months to secure a job; you should start applying around six months in advance. The process of getting your work visa is notoriously slow.
- Visa and other requirements: While I’m on the topic, you’ll need a visa to work in Qatar. The nation traditionally operates under the Kafala system, which means you need sponsorship from your employer to work in Qatar. Your employer will pay the fees for this and handle much of the administration; however, you will need to cooperate along the way. You’ll need to provide your university degree and a marriage certificate (if relevant). You will need to undergo a criminal background check and an HIV test. Who likes needles, right?
- Exit visa: Qatar law means that once you have a work visa, you need an exit visa to leave the country. You’ll need consent from your employer every time you leave. However, Qatar is abolishing this requirement for certain workers. Ask specifically from your employer if you’ll need an exit visa to travel regionally during your contract.
- Climate: Middle Eastern summers are blisteringly hot. You’re looking at 45 C (113 F) during the hottest months. Hooray for air-con in classrooms!
- Cultural differences: One of the main perks of moving overseas is the chance to experience a different culture. While Qatar is a fascinating place to live, you’ll need to adapt to its conservative requirements. Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar, and women in particular need to be conscious of conservative Islamic customs.
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How Much Can Teachers Expect to Make?
The great news about working in Qatar as an English teacher is that you have the potential to build up a great nest egg. An average salary for an English teacher in Qatar is $1,600 USD – $4,000 USD (5,800 – 14,600 QAR) per month. That’s tax-free, so you’ll bank your entire wage.
English teachers have three options in Qatar:
- First up, you have international schools. Most of these are private and set their own curriculum, as education is only semi-regulated in Qatar. You might encounter a broad variety of teaching styles and methods. You will teach primary and secondary age children from Qatar and all around the world. Qatari schools are high-quality and offer attractive salaries and benefits to English teachers. International school jobs are highly competitive and usually require you to have a four year university degree (Masters preferred), a 120-hour TEFL certification or CELTA and 2-3 years of in-classroom experience. Some of the more prestigous schools may also require you to have a teaching license from your own country. Because of the high expectation of you, I would not recommend this position to a new teacher.
- Pre-schools and kindergartens provide a lot of teaching opportunities in Qatar. If you’re looking to teach elementary, there are lots of opportunities for you as parents tend to want their children to learn English as a foreign language from a young age. Kindergarten teachers can expect 8-20 young learners up to the age of 6 in their classrooms, plus a teaching assistant. Materials are often provided and there is little preparation involved.
- Then you have English language schools and centers. You may teach both adults or children here. The salaries are slightly lower than at international schools, and you may work shorter hours or be offered evening and weekend slots. If you are teaching business English, you can earn a little more than teaching children. If you are a new teacher, a language school or center would be the ideal first teaching job.
- Last but not least, you can work as a private English tutor in Qatar. You may teach one student or a smaller group. You’ll need to be sponsored either by a family or an agency who helps you find clients. Working illegally in Qatar is not a path you want to wander – the penalties if caught are very high. If you want to work as a private teacher in Qatar, I recommend getting some experience under your belt first in a language center.
- Public schools tend not to hire teachers who do not speak Arabic.
Requirements for Teaching in Qatar
If you want to bank those eye-watering Qatari salaries, you’ll need to prove your might. Here are the requirements for landing a job in Qatar:
- Native English proficiency: Native speakers are preferred in Qatar. Particularly, those who hold passports from the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, or the US. If you’re not a native speaker, you will need to prove impeccable fluency.
- TEFL Certification: You must have a 120-hour TEFL certificate to teach English in Qatar. If you’re not already qualified, you can study in a classroom or even online.
- Bachelor’s Degree: A bachelor’s degree is a mandatory requirement for anyone to teach in Qatar. A master’s degree will put you in an even better position! Typically, they prefer you to have studied at university for at least four years.
- English teaching experience: Most private schools require 2-3 years’ teaching experience. At a language school, you may be able to find work without experience – provided you meet the other requirements on this list. But remember that there is a lot of competition for English teachers in Qatar. If you can get some in-classroom experience prior, you’ll be a more attractive candidate for a teaching job.
- Visa: You must have a work visa to work legally in Qatar. Your new employer will sponsor you and do most of the groundwork. In most cases, your Qatari work visa is tied to your job. That means you must remain at the school that has sponsored you until your contract ends.
- Health check: As part of the application process, you will be asked to undergo a physical examination and take an HIV test.
- Criminal background check: Most Qatari employers make it a requirement that they check your background for any skeletons.
Where to Get TEFL Certified
There’s no getting a job in Qatar without a TEFL certificate. If you don’t already have one, relax – it’s one of the easiest parts of the whole process.
Online TEFL Certificates
There are tons of places to get a TEFL certification online. Some of them are phoney, and believe me, employers know which ones are fake. These are usually video-only courses where you don’t talk to someone or have to undergo lesson prep on your own. Not only will these certifications get you nowhere when applying for jobs, they also won’t help you learn how to teach English.
For that reason, you do need to look for a reliable company. Here are some of my faves:
The myTEFL 140-hour course is the gold standard of TEFL certificates. It is accepted by any country and prepares you for a career in teaching English abroad. Most companies only require you to hold a 120-hour TEFL certification, but this course has an extra 20 hours dedicated to online teaching. This is an ideal course for those wanting to teach online.
MyTEFL does an awesome job at teaching the skills you need to manage a classroom and transfer your knowledge to your students. Not only does it cover the fundamental skills for teaching phonics, reading, writing, listening and speaking, it also covers lesson planning and classroom management, so you’ll feel completely prepared for walking into the classroom for the first time.
They also offer a 120-hour course, which would be sufficient for a job in Qatar. There is the option to study completely online or onsite. If possible, I would highly recommend doing your TEFL certification onsite as the face-to-face interaction is really good practice for new teachers. Also, some jobs require you to prove you have had some practical teaching practice.
Let’s TEFL is the next best online TEFL certificate, and is the best for those needing a refresh of English rules themselves before hitting the classroom. If it’s been a long time since you’ve taken a grammar class, you’re going to want to brush up.
What I also like about this TEFL certification is that it also covers motivation training. If you plan to teach children in Qatar, believe me, you’ll need to have a few tricks up your sleeve to keep them engaged.
It is a 120-hour course which is the minimum required for a teaching job in Qatar, and has all the skills you need to teach covered in the course. You’ll be raring to go after completing this course!
TEFL Pros isn’t the most hands-on TEFL certification, but their course is usually the cheapest. Plus, they’ve got a free trial so you don’t need to drop money to see what this is all about!
This TEFL certification is entirely online with no option for face-to-face learning, which is ideal for anyone who is currently overseas. Personally, I found the face-to-face interaction really useful so would recommend looking for a course that can be done in person.
Getting Your TEFL in Qatar
Your other option is to get your TEFL in Qatar. This means you can get your feet on the ground and feel it out before committing to a lengthy contract in the country. You can get to know Doha, get a sense of the culture, and make a few friends. You may even make some handy contacts while you’re there.
That being said – living in Qatar is costly. If you need to cover your accommodation, food, and travel while in the country, it’ll chew up a lot of dollars. So have a think about which option is best for you. To help with your research, here are a few places you can obtain your TEFL in Qatar.
I would not recommend going down this route. Remember that a TEFL certification requires at least 120 hours, so even if you are studying full time for 8 hours a day, it will still take you 2 weeks to complete.
International House: Doha’s outpost of International House offers a 4-week, 120-hour CELTA. After an intense study period, you will be qualified to teach English in Qatar or anywhere else in the world. The school also runs a programme of English classes, so you might stand a chance of getting employed in the school afterward.
International TEFL Training Institute: Another internationally recognised organisation providing TEFL courses in Doha. The course offered at ITTI is the TESOL, and it comes with career-support services. They’ll provide you with CV advice, school lists, and recruiter referrals. Even better, all in-class graduates get a free online, 50-hour TEFL course in one of the following areas:
- Teach Business English
- Teach Young Learners
- Or, Teach TOEFL Test Preparation
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Where to Teach English in Qatar
So, you’ve got your TEFL and learned how to say hello in Arabic. Next – where to teach in Qatar? Your best bet is the capital city, Doha.
Teaching in Doha
The Qatari capital has set its eyes on becoming the next Dubai, and it’s getting there! Doha is much quieter than Dubai, but it’s safe and offers a very comfortable lifestyle. Pretty much all the teaching jobs in Qatar are in and around Doha. You’ll find international schools and language centres to choose from. When you’re not working, you’ll be able to enjoy all the perks of a fast-developing contemporary city!
You should note that while some countries require you to teach a few classes a day and then you can chill on the beach for the rest of it, Qatar is not one of them. You are expected to work hard. Typically, the number of hours worked by English teachers in Qatar is 44 hours per week. Most of the time, this includes your lesson planning and preparation time, but at language centres it is typically more teaching hours than preparation time.
Living in Qatar and Teaching Online
In many locations around the world, it’s possible to teach English online. However, this isn’t the case in Qatar.
The costs of living in this affluent Middle Eastern city are simply too high to make this a feasible venture. Few online teaching jobs will pay enough to cover the costs of living in a city such as Doha, plus you won’t be able to get a working visa without a local company to sponsor you.
You’ll also miss out on the cushy benefits of a job teaching in a Qatari school, like free accommodation and subsided transport. If you’re truly committed to teach abroad in Qatar, you will need to work face to face.
Is your heart set on teaching English online? It’s best to check out alternative options such as South East Asia.
How to Find a Job in Qatar
So you know what’s required of you and you’ve got all the certifications you need. Now, you need to know exactly how to find a job in Qatar.
It’s best to apply for positions while you’re in your home country. Schools are happy to interview via webcam, and the process of getting your visa is very time-consuming, so having an interview via Skype is pretty normal. If you have enough money to support yourself in Qatar while job hunting, you could do this. But trust us, that’ll get pricey, especially when you consider the prices of places to stay in Doha!
Applying for Jobs in Qatar
You can apply for jobs year-round, but it’s best to land your job in time for the new school term. The Qatari school year starts in September. As the process takes a few months, I’d recommend starting during spring (April/May) to be in with the best chance.
To start with, ensure your CV is up-to-date. Besides your basic contact information, you should highlight details of the following:
- Educational background: list where you studied, what subject, and when you graduated.
- Teaching experience: having teaching experience will make the process of getting hired in Qatar much easier for you.
- TEFL certification and Teaching License: once you’ve got it, flaunt it!
- References: include the contact details for previous employers so employers can contact them prior to an interview or after a successful interview
- Nationality: native-English speakers are desirable, so make sure you state where you are from.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to proofread your CV. Teaching English abroad is a saturated market, and if your CV is riddled with spelling and grammar mistakes, you won’t even be considered.
Once that’s all done and dusted, you’re ready to begin the process.
1. Apply Directly to Schools in Qatar
It’s worth committing the time to research schools in Qatar. Private international schools are extremely varied, and all follow different curricula. Let’s say you’re from Finland; you may find schools that follow the Finish curriculum. Ditto for those that follow the British curriculum.
You can visit the websites of schools to see if they have vacancies advertised. If they don’t, email them directly. Send your CV and a polite note enquiring about any job opportunities.
If you are successful, you’ll be invited to interview over Skype, Zoom, or equivalent.
2. Register With a Qatar-based Recruitment Agency
Alternatively – and perhaps the simplest way to find a job in Qatar – is to register with a recruitment agency that deals with schools and language centers. Once you’re registered, your agent will send prospective jobs your way and prepare you for an online interview.
Some recruitment agencies take a cut of your salary though, so it’s best to check out the reviews before signing up. Glassdoor is a teacher’s best friend as former teachers can bash the companies they’ve worked with – or praise them, but it is the best way to separate the dodgy companies from the good ones. Check out Seek Teachers and Teaching Nomad as a starting point.
How to Prepare for Your Job Interview in Qatar
Once you have an interview or two lined up, it’s time to do your homework. Research all you can about the school and its curriculum. Scour reviews and forums for testimonials from other teachers on Glassdoor. But always take those reviews with a pinch of salt as there are always two sides to a story.
Prepare your answers as you would any other job interview. Expect to be asked about your teaching qualifications, educational background, teaching experience, and motivations.
A private international school might ask you about these things:
- Your planning method
- How you handle (or might handle) a difficult situation in the classroom
- Ways you will motivate your students
- Your general approach to teaching
- Your teaching philosophy and why you think teaching is important
- What challenges you expect to face while teaching in Qatar
- How you communicate with parents or guardians / your managers
- Who you would go to if there is a problem (there is a heirarchy within schools, they want to make sure you understand that you don’t go running to the principal for every problem)
Be sure to prepare any questions of your own, too – about the school, the nature of the work, the students. Don’t forget to enquire about the specifics and practicalities as well:
- Clarify the salary
- Check they will sponsor your work visa
- Confirm the standard working hours (consider teaching hours and lesson planning)
- Enquire about annual leave
- Discuss the desired contract length. This might be a couple of years – ask if your visa is tied to it
- Ask about the terms of the exit visa
- Raise whether your accommodation/airfare will be covered. Airfare includes your inbound flight plus any return visits home during your contract
- Ask about other benefits, such as subsided travel to and from work and healthcare in Qatar. Will they supply you with health insurance?
- Ask about the curriculum. If there isn’t one, this would ring alarm bells.
Moving to Qatar is a fairly major undertaking, so leave no stone unturned!
Living in Qatar
You’ve made it this far; now you can start thinking about actually living in Qatar! Living in the Middle East is a colourful experience, but it’s handy to know what to expect.
Qatar is remarkably safe. Due to conservative laws and harsh punishments for crime, Qataris tend to follow the rules strictly. In fact, some say that if you drop your wallet in public, it will still be there an hour later when you retrace your steps.
That being said, you need to have your wits about you and ensure you obey local customs. Many things you might take for granted are banned in Qatar. Importing contraband is subject to high penalties – I’m talking about alcohol, drugs, pork, and religious books.
As a non-Muslim (if that’s you), you can drink alcohol, but only in licensed bars (usually in hotels). You need consent to drink at home. Officially, unmarried men and women may not live together, but the rules are more relaxed for Western expats.
For women, you will need to wear something that covers your knees and shoulders and isn’t too provocative or revealing. Don’t wear any tight clothing (you wouldn’t want to in the heat anyway, trust me).
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If your job in Qatar comes with the perks of free accommodation, complimentary airfare, and subsided travel, you’ll bank a lot of savings each month. Here are your average living costs in Qatar.
|Flying to Qatar from the US||$700|
|Total Monthly Expenses||$1300|
Accommodation: If your employer covers the cost of your accommodation, you’ve got free digs! The majority of schools do provide housing – for example, a fully furnished apartment you can move right into. Alternatively, they may give you a housing allowance but leave where you live down to you. For guidance, a comfortable one-bedroom apartment in central Doha costs between $960 – $2,470 (QR3,500 and QR9,000) per month. The average cost comes in around $1,500 (QR5,500). Luxurious, spacious properties will be looking upwards of $3,000 per month.
Travel: For such an advanced country, public transport is where Qatar falls short. Even in Doha, buses are humble, and there is no metro service. Most Qataris commute by car – so you might consider purchasing a vehicle or hiring a private driver. Some schools do provide support with transport costs for teachers, so do ask. Meanwhile, single bus tickets cost between 80 cents and $2.75 (QR3 – QR10). Monthly passes are $27.50 – $55 (QR100 – QR200).
Food: Much of the food in Qatar is imported, which means one thing – expensive. Realistically, you’ll spend between 10-20% of your monthly salary on groceries. When it comes to eating out, as with all major cities, Doha has a mix of budget and upscale eateries.
Entertainment: The great thing about working in Qatar is that if you get all your expenses covered, you’ve got wads of cash to play with! In Doha, you can take your pick from yoga classes, sailing clubs, and road trips out to the desert. There are ample shopping and cinemas to keep you entertained. You can drink in hotel bars, but prices are high. A bottle of beer might set you back around $13!
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Speaking the Language
Arabic is the official language of Qatar but English is widely spoken, as are a number of other Asian and European languages. In fact, there is high demand for teachers in other languages in Qatar due to its multicultural expat community.
You aren’t expected to learn Arabic, but getting your head around the basics goes a long way. It will make it easier to communicate with the wider community where English isn’t spoken, especially if you stray further afield of Doha.
Most schools provide a teaching assistant who speaks Arabic to support non-Arabic-speaking foreign teachers. But, as you can imagine, taking the initiative to master the language will only go in your favour.
However, while you are teaching, you are expected to use only English. The reason you are hired is for your gifts communicating in the English language, otherwise, they would get a local to do it. If English isn’t your first language, make sure you use it only when in the classroom.
FAQ on Teaching English in Qatar
Final Thoughts on English Teaching in Qatar
As you can tell, getting a job in Qatar is extremely lucrative. There is a ton of information to digest and consider. However, it can be a fantastic experience to teach abroad and a great way to save money for the future.
You’ll also get to experience a way of life that blends Middle Eastern and Western customs. Remember that teaching positions in Qatar tend to ask you to commit to a year or more, so you’ve got to make sure it’s the right place for you.
However, a few years of teaching in Qatar will look great on your CV and help you get better jobs teaching abroad in other countries.
All the best with your job hunt!
Thanks for reading – that was fun! 😀
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